NHS Confederation and LaingBuisson chair Stephen Dorrell set out a path towards health and social care integration during yesterday’s Leaders in Care event in London.
Addressing the audience of senior executives and care home managers representing the nation’s leading operators, Mr Dorrell said health and social care integration was “not a new idea” but it was “about time somebody did something about it”.
In his role as NHS Confederation chair, Mr Dorrell said he was strengthening the links between association directors of social services, public health organisations, social housing and local government associations in order to build a network for a joined up view of health and social care.
“We need to think of the delivery of these services not as traditional silos …. and start to thinking about them in terms of the outcome they deliver for the individual citizen,” the LaingBuisson chair said.
The former Health Minister used the example of a library closure to highlight how public services can impact one and another.
“Close a library and you remove a community meeting place, there is then a tendency for greater isolation which is one of the greatest causes of developing mental ill health,” Mr Dorrell said.
“20% of all physical conditions have mental health roots, so close a library and you have created demand in the A&E department.”
Addressing his audience directly, the former cabinet minister said: “You and your care homes will deliver better services if you are able not just to have digital platforms to provide information on what goes on in the care home but also connect them into the doctor’s surgery, to the social work department and to the local hospitals. Connecting in order to pass information around the system is a vital part of improving the delivery of these services.
“One of the things I am keen to push is engaging with local government not as a service provider but as an organisation which is interested in the outcome delivered for the citizens in that local authority. That requires building intervention systems not just connecting care delivery but understanding where demand for healthcare services and experience of poor outcomes exists in local communities. “
Mr Dorrell said the role of local government in creating integrated health and social care services had been “underrated” in recent years.
He added: “My enthusiasm is to deliver more joined up services that reflect the wishes of the local community. Local government has a legitimacy in designing these services reflecting their electoral mandates that is not possessed by the central planning bureaucracy of the NHS.
“Linking with local government to deliver services that reflect the needs and wishes of local communities is an important part of the way into a joined up and integrated health and care system that I strongly believe we need to build.”